SUNDERLAND midfielder Carl Robinson has banned his family from attending Saturday's crucial Championship clash with Cardiff, because he can't guarantee they'll be supporting the right side.

The Wales international might have been born in Llandrindod Wells but, like most football fans in the principality, he was raised as a fanatical fan of Cardiff City.

While he has switched his allegiances during a well-travelled career that has taken him to Wolves, Portsmouth, Rotherham, Sheffield United and now Wearside, his family have remained committed to the Bluebirds.

His father, Phillip, and his brother, Jeff, continue to be regulars at Ninian Park and, when Sunderland enjoyed a 2-0 win there in December, the duo took their usual seats at the heart of the home end.

With Cardiff frantically battling to avoid relegation into League One, Saturday's game is as vital to their survival hopes as it is to Sunderland's promotion push.

But, while Robinson will be bantering with his family during the build-up to the game, he will not be booking them tickets for the Stadium of Light.

"I've not invited any of them up," revealed Robinson, who has missed just six league games all season. "They might be coming up independently, but they won't be getting any tickets from me.

"Even my dad - if he's going to be supporting Cardiff, he's going to have to look after himself.

"My brother actually works for Cardiff now in the youth development side of things. I get the ins and outs of what's going on from him, but I know a lot of the boys anyway because they play for Wales.

"I'm sure my family will all be supporting Cardiff on Saturday. They'll probably want a Cardiff win, with me scoring a goal for Sunderland."

Robinson's connections with the Welsh international side ensure that he too retains something of a soft spot for this weekend's opponents. The 28-year-old supported them as a boy and almost joined them as a junior before he was offered a trial at Wolves.

He would be bitterly disappointed to see them relegated at the end of the season but, with Sunderland desperately in need of maximum points to stay in touch with the top two, there will be no room for sentiment in two days time.

"I've got a big Cardiff connection," admitted Robinson. "I hope they stay up and I think they will. I thought they would be in the play-offs because they've got a good squad.

"It was difficult when we were down there because I saw the Cardiff lads afterwards and they were very down.

"It's nice to see them pulling away from the bottom of the table because I wouldn't want to see us get promoted and them go down.

"There are good connections there, but they go out of the window on Saturday because we need the three points."

The midfielder's commitment to the Black Cats cannot be called into question as, for the last month, he has been playing through the pain barrier to aid their promotion push.

Robinson is suffering from a painful bunion on his right foot but insists that, if corrective surgery is needed, it will be put off until the end of the current campaign.

The swelling is restricting his training but, to continue playing matches, he has come up with the novel solution of playing in different sized boots.

"My right boot is bigger than my left at the moment," said Robinson. "My foot is still swollen. I had four days rest with it last week but I know I'm not going to get any rest this week with another game coming up on Saturday.

"I'm going to go for an X-ray on Monday, then we'll go from there. We were hoping I might get some rest during the international break, but Wales have got two games against Austria.

"Hopefully I'll be involved in those two squads so I won't get any rest there either. If it needs surgery, I'll wait to the end of the season."

Sunderland's medical staff have been sympathetic to Robinson's plight, organising his training schedule around the swelling on his foot. But, with the likes of Colin Healy and Kevin Kyle nursing long-term problems that have kept them out of action for almost all of the season, his team-mates have given him somewhat shorter shrift.

"Some people have cruciates and things like that, so I'm not getting much sympathy from the lads," said Robinson